Interview with Bonnie Merrill (2015)


Interview with Bonnie Merrill (2015)


Streaming Media


Bonnie Merrill co-founded the Portland Dance Theater and has taught dance at Portland State University and Reed College. In 1994, she was the first individual dance artist to receive the Oregon’s Governor’s Award for the Arts.

Recorded for the documentary Moving History: Portland Contemporary Dance Past and Present.

Interview Date





A lifelong ballet dancer, Bonnie Merrill was introduced to the "intellectual properties of contemporary dance" as a student of Catherine Evleshin at Portland State University in the 1970s. Together with her cohort of choreographers and dancers at Portland State, Merrill co-founded the company Portland Dance Theater to rehearse and choreograph modern dance pieces.

Merrill's career as a dance instructor also began in ballet, teaching workshops to young dancers, and evolved into different styles of dance and into collaboration with other dancers, taking on different aspects of performance and choreography. She taught at both Portland State University and Reed College.

In 1994, Merrill was the first individual dance artist to receive the Oregon Governor's Award for the Arts.

Interviewer Eric Nordstrom is a dance performer, filmmaker and professor. As a director and editor, his interests focus on the intersection of dance, improvisation, documentary, and film. His past and current film work features such prominent dancers and scholars as Ann Cooper Albright and Simone Forti. In Seattle, he has performed with Karen Nelson, and in Portland, Oregon, was a core company member with Oslund+Company. Eric has taught contemporary technique, contact improvisation, and dance film courses in colleges and festivals throughout the U.S., including Macalester College, Kenyon College, Reed College, Portland State University, Seattle Festival of Dance Improvisation, Conduit Dance, and The Ohio State University, where he earned his Master of Fine Arts. He is on faculty at Lewis and Clark College.


This interview is made available through the Portland State University Library Special Collections and University Archives with the generous permission of Eric Nordstrom, Portland Performing Arts Video and is for educational and non-commercial use only. It cannot be reproduced in any form, distributed or played for commercial purposes. For more information, please contact Special Collections at Portland State University Library at: or (503) 725-9883

Persistent Identifier

Interview with Bonnie Merrill (2015)